A teenage girl has recalled harrowing details of how she used a tree branch to try to rescue three boys who died after falling through thin ice on a lake in Solihull.
The boys, aged eight, 10 and 11, died after being pulled from the lake on Sunday afternoon, while a six-year-old boy also rescued remains fighting for life in hospital.
Oliwia Szewc, 13, from Kingshurst, said she was meeting a friend in Babbs Mill Park when she saw boys struggling in the lake after falling through the ice.
“I saw two boys in the water, I couldn’t see the rest of them,” the teenager told ITV News Central. “I’m guessing most of them already fell into the lake.”
She added: “I was just shocked and panicked because I didn’t know what I could do. Me and my friend have never really been in a situation like that before.”
Temperatures are thought to have plunged to 1C in the area at the time of the incident, falling to -3C overnight.
All four children were in cardiac arrest when emergency services recovered them from the lake in the Kingshurst nature reserve.
Emergency crews were initially told six people had been seen on the ice, and recovery search operations continued on Monday and Tuesday.
Oliwia said she saw two boys around five or six metres out into the lake and heard someone saying they couldn’t swim.
She and her friend then called 999 while trying to find ways to help the boys.
“I was just trying to find branches of trees and try to pass to them but they were all too short,” she said.
“I was just trying my best to think of different ways to at least help them or do anything for them to float on the surface of the water so they wouldn’t drown.”
After being pulled from the lake by emergency services the boys were taken to hospital for treatment.
Despite the best efforts of medics three of the boys could not be revived. One of those who died has been named as 10-year-old Jack Johnson, who is said to have gone into the lake to help the others.
On Tuesday, people of all ages – including officers from the local police force who were among some of the first to arrive at the scene – paid respects to the three boys.
Some had brought children’s toys or sweets to leave, others had balloons or bouquets.
The messages on the hundreds of cards told their own story, with several addressed to the “Babbs Mill Boys”.
One read: “You will never be forgotten boys, our three Kings of Kingshurst.”